May 16, 2008 - In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out as gay to his conservative parents, promptly gets disowned, goes on a bender... and wakes up the next morning to find TJ, a lanky, dreadlocked vagrant, frying eggs and singing Paul Simon in his kitchen.

TJ claims that the two have made a drunken pact to drive all the way from Berkeley to Providence. As it happens, Amal promised his sister he'd be there for her graduation from Brown University. And TJ, well... TJ has his own reasons.

The agreement is simple: Amal does the driving; TJ pays the way - but a 3500 mile journey leaves plenty of time for things to get complicated.

''The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal'' is a webcomic by E.K. Weaver that follows the form of a typical RoadTripPlot. It features the budding romance of the title characters in the most nerdy, believable way possible, as well as some superb dialog, well-crafted characters, and great art that pays special attention to the little details of life. Can be read [[http://tjandamal.com/ here.]]

!!Tropes that pop up in this webcomic:

* {{Adorkable}}: Amal. So, ''so'' much. Also, TJ, when the mood is on him.
** They're both definitely equal parts adorkable, especially in conjunction. Some highlights would definitely be most of their comedic banter, the "amazing escalation", and the ultimate battle of ultimate destiny example. Not to mention the Back to the Future quote-off.
* AllThereInTheManual: There's lots of information on the website about side characters who don't appear in the author's sketches and notes.
** So far the biggest source of information about, for one thing, TJ's past, has been the author's various Tumblr accounts.
* AnimeHair: Amal has a little bit of this going on. The gray streak is natural though.
* ArrangedMarriage: Amal was in one of these. Subverted from the usual in that he really liked his fiancee Kavita...[[TheBeard as a person.]] As a romantic partner, not so much. His parents were unhappy about this.
* BeatPanel: Done [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=153 beautifully]] in the moment [[spoiler:before they take the U out of [[UnresolvedSexualTension UST]] and then some]].
* BiTheWay: TJ, who doesn't label his sexuality indicating he is either bi or pansexual.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: Despite their feelings for each other, TJ leaves Amal during his reconciliation with his family and the two never see each other again. However, TJ is now free to start a new life in Providence and while Amal's parents are still grappling with Amal's homosexuality, they no longer disown him and his siblings are firmly on his side.]]
* BollywoodNerd: Played with where Amal is concerned. Yes, he's a med student and a bit of a geek. He's also such a well-rounded character of so many parts that it takes a while to get around to the fact that he's in med school.
* CantHoldHisLiquor: Amal repeatedly calls himself a lightweight, though he may just be referring to pot.
* ChekhovsGun: As of Chapter 33, the Harry Potter CD collection from Chapter 18 has come back. (In fact taking a second look at TJ's face the earlier scene reveals some foreshadowing.)
** The entire scene is full of foreshadowing - for example, the way TJ talks about the series, [[spoiler:it's easy to see that he knows barely anything about the Harry Potter series, looking really blank-faced when Amal starts talking about it in more detail and answering the favourite character question with "Well...I've always been partial to mentors," instead of just saying "Dumbledore".]]
** TJ's fondness for the song "Graceland." [[spoiler:It's the name of the tattoo parlor in Providence.]]
* CigaretteOfAnxiety: TJ, particularly after [[spoiler:realizing the extent of his feelings for Amal.]]
* ClosetGeek: [[http://tjandamal.com/starfleet.jpg Oh Amal.]]
* ComingOutStory: The comic starts with Amal's with regards to his parents, but it's mostly over with by the time the action gets going. The consequences of coming out, though, have either occurred largely in the background or have been suspended entirely while the boys are on the road (and Amal's phone is mostly off).
* CueTheRain: [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=267 "We'll be fine as long as it doesn't sta--"]]
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Blink and you'll miss it, because it's subtly done, but when you see E.K.'s notes, and the ''scars'' TJ's sporting... Not to mention [[http://tjandamal.com/bonesofyou2.png this]].
** And if you're paying attention, you notice that TJ is [[spoiler: clearly on the run from something or someone]]. If you skimmed you'd miss it, but look at [[http://www.tjandamal.com/comic/?id=53 this page]], or [[http://www.tjandamal.com/comic/?id=77 this page]]-- in the first he [[spoiler: hides from the guy coming out of the car]], and in the second, he [[spoiler: lies about where they've come from and where they're going]]. So what exactly did he do...?
*** According to [[http://iicel.tumblr.com/post/34061572630/skimming-through-tj-and-amal-again-wait-a]] (spoilers), it gets worse.
* DistractedByTheSexy: on Chapter 6, Page 4, TJ spills soda accidentally because he was too busy staring at shirtless Amal.
* DreadlockRasta: Which makes TJ look like a [[http://www.tjandamal.com/comic/?id=110 dandelion]], according to Amal.
* DrinkingGame: Done in-story, with the Franchise/BackToTheFuture [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=148 quote-a-long]]. [[invoked]]
* DrivesLikeCrazy: Averted. TJ even mentions how super slow and careful Amal is driving most of the time.
** And then [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=253 THIS]] happened. TJ takes it surprisingly well, though.
* DrowningMySorrows: How TJ first encounters Amal. Amal has a ''good'' reason for getting wasted.
** TJ drowns his after [[spoiler: explaining his past to Amal and flushing all his cocaine.]]
--> Amal: Uh, you... you want to get a beer?
--> TJ: I would like seven beers.
* DrugsAreBad: Averted. TJ and Amal buy from a trucker and partake sparingly, and this doesn't lead to any kind of negative consequence. Played straight when [[spoiler:Amal discovers that TJ has been transporting cocaine and makes him flush it]].
* FanNickname: Both fans and the author refer to the comic as <Epic.
* FlatWhat: "The last bite of pie is yours if you want it." "What."[[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=193]]
* Foreshadowing: The way Amal compares his 'destiny' of studying medicine with love.
--> '''Amal:''' It sneaks up on you and hits like lightning-- BAM! And you know it! You just...know!\\
** Ironicaly, this is exactly the way of reaction that [[spoiler: both]] portray.
* FriendToAllChildren: TJ shows signs of it [[http://www.tjandamal.com/comic/?id=107 here]] and [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=283 here.]]
** [[http://bigbigtruck.deviantart.com/art/adventures-in-babysitting-193074976 In an obviously non-canon image]], he even hangs out with [[Manga/{{Yotsuba}} Yotsuba]]. They end up trashing the kitchen while making breakfast.
* GeekyTurnOn: Mostly Geeky Bonding at this point, but, well... see below.
* [[spoiler: GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex: Or at least loud, frequent sex that leaves them smiling like fools afterward.]]
* GymBunny: It's implied that Amal used to be this after he [[http://www.tjandamal.com/comic/?id=115 first started exploring the gay scene]]. He's certainly jacked.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Played with in the [[http://tjandamal.com/retropostcard.jpg bonus art.]]
* HideousHangoverCure: TJ's eggs, according to E.K.'s notes.
* HiddenDepths: Both of them, but TJ especially.
* IHaveNoSon: Amal's dad all but did this to him when he came out to his parents.
* TheIllegible: Amal's [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=166 future-doctor handwriting]].
* [[spoiler: TheImmodestOrgasm: Amal, apparently. Who knew?]]
** [[spoiler: TheModestOrgasm: TJ, to the point where Amal first assumed that something was wrong or that he wasn't all that into it. He's apparently "used to keeping quiet."]]
* InVinoVeritas: According to TJ, this is how he and Amal wound up agreeing to drive across America to Amal's sister's graduation.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Rather than use his then-fiancee Kavita as TheBeard (and it's implied she would be okay with this) Amal broke off their engagement so that she could be with someone who would fully love her. [[UnreliableNarrator Or so he says]].
* LoveEpiphany: Chapter 29 has a powerful, almost entirely non-verbal version of this. If you still don't get how it applies, Google the chapter title along with "lyrics".
* [[ManicPixieDreamGirl Manic Pixie Dream Guy]]: TJ to Amal, sorta.
* MeasuringTheMarigolds: TJ accuses Amal of this.
* NonindicativeName: [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=202 When TJ looks for rock on Amal's iPod.]]
-->'''TJ:''' Heyyy, ''Music/{{Death Cab|ForCutie}}!'' That sounds pretty badass!\\
'''Amal:''' Actually, that's, um...\\
[''cue [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNqQC7R_Me4 "Transatlanticism"]]'']\\
'''TJ:''' The ''hell,'' man. That is one ''dirty-ass'' bait and switch. [''Amal laughs''] Hey, there we go -- "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyer_(band) Destroyer]]", that's gotta rock.\\
[''cue [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-fuxkYNKJE "Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears)"]]'']\\
'''TJ:''' ''Your [=iPod=] is filled with '''lies'''.''
* OppositesAttract: A fairly minor version, but TJ and Amal seem to come from totally opposite backgrounds.
* ThePromise: A good portion of Amal's motivation comes from his refusal to let his promise to see his sister graduate college go unfulfilled, despite having come out and been disowned by his parents.
* RealPlaceBackground: And ''how''. Weaver spends an incredible amount of time not only illustrating real scenes from locations along the journey the boys are making, but also [[ShownTheirWork carefully plans out their route to make it plausible in real life]].
* RedOniBlueOni
* RoadTripRomance
* [[spoiler:SexyDiscretionShot:]] Chapter 17. [[spoiler:Very much averted in the previous chapter.]]
* ScarsAreForever: TJ has [[http://tjandamal.com/vandalism.jpg several]] very prominent ones on his body.
* SceneryPorn: Some pages take a small reprieve to show off just how beautiful nature really is.
* SexForSolace: [[spoiler: Amal, who starts to initiate sex with TJ to avoid having to think about his family.]]
* ShoutOut: Each chapter title is a different song lyric.
* ShownTheirWork: Taken to an extreme with the [[http://tjandamal.com/notes.html notes page]].
* SilentSceneryPanel: The entirely of [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=123 chapter 14]] is done without dialog.
* SilenceIsGolden: Two whole chapters of the comic are completely like this. It's a mark of the artist's skill set that you can tell exactly what's going on anyway in the content of the (non-existant) dialogue, including Chapter 17, which is one (long) page and arguably a CrowningMomentOfAwesome.
* SkunkStripe: Amal's got one.
* StraightGay: Amal. TJ's case (according to WordOfGod) overlaps with BiTheWay.
* TemptingFate: "We'll be fine as long as it doesn't sta-" Cue the heavy raining.
* ThereIsOnlyOneBed: Neither of the boys seemed to be too bothered by it, even before they [[spoiler: got stoned and hooked up.]]
* UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny: TJ and Amal play a variation in [[http://tjandamal.com/comic/?id=101 Chapter 12]].
* WhamEpisode: Chapter 33 is shaping up to be one of these.
* WillTheyOrWontThey: More subtle and organic than in most cases where this trope is used, to the point where you could see them being good friends just as easily as lovers. [[spoiler: But TheyDo.]]